Five things long distance running has taught me


I have not always been an incredibly active person. I started jogging when I was 28, but did not do many races.

That changed just under six years ago (I was about to turn 40), when I did my first ultramarathon, the rather challenging Comrades Marathon, run annually over a distance of 89 kilometres (56 miles) between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

I have now done five consecutive ones.

When you do any one thing regularly, you make several discoveries. You learn, and grow.

So what has running taught me?

1. The hills behind you have prepared you for the ones ahead

You have done a hill or two, you may have even conquered a mountain. Those were useful experiences, they have made you strong. You may have momentarily forgotten exactly how strong, but if you are facing another, remember: you may be more prepared than you think.

2. You are not alone

Unless you are running a little known race somewhere in a remote spot on the planet, you are not alone, neither will you be alone. Others have gone before you: they have run similar races. They may even be running with you right now. Seek them, find them, take advice and energy from them, listen to them.

3. Honour your body

Your body is wonderfully made, it has unnamed capabilities, it is beautiful. Take care of it, thank it, cherish it, feed it as well as you possibly can. Your body is not a separate thing, a disposable tool or less important aspect. Your body is important. Honour it.

4. Believe

Believe that you can do it. Whatever the task presented to you, you can do it. This does not mean that you can perform miracles, but it does mean that even when something seems impossible, it does not mean it is. But believing that you can’t, won’t help much. Believe. Believe in the impossible. Believe that you can.

5. When it feels like you can’t go further, you probably can

At some point in your life, you may feel like you’ve come to the end of the road. Ask yourself: is it a roadblock, or is it a hurdle? If it’s a roadblock, are there alternative routes? If it’s a hurdle, muster all your strength and jump. Search wisdom. Be wise. You’ll know when to seek another way.

Just don’t stop.

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